BOSTON — A healthy Boston Celtics is a happy Boston Celtics.
Sure, Daniel Theis missed Boston’s 113-101 victory at TD Garden over the Chicago Bulls with a sore right knee, but the C’s managed just fine without him. And after a bit of a rough stretch, Boston appears to be finding its groove.
Despite a small hiccup in the third quarter, the Celtics maintained a double-digit lead over the Bulls for most of Monday’s game. The Celtics spread 113 points between them pretty evenly, with six players scoring double figures against the Bulls. Jayson Tatum was the only player in green to score 20-plus points, while Brad Wanamaker and Gordon Hayward fell shy of the double-digit mark with nine and eight points apiece, respectively.
Marcus Smart, for one, is pleased with the team’s recent progress.
“We’ve finally got a majority of our guys healthy, and finally we’re playing together,” Smart said after the game. “We knew that with the core group of guys we have, and with everybody else that’s here, what we can do when we’re all healthy.”
And when they are together, the Celtics seem to click. Head coach Brad Stevens thinks the last two games have been a great start.
“Yeah, pressure was better both games,” Stevens said. “(The Bulls) are a hard team to play against. If you take your foot off the gas for even a second offensively, they turn you over and turn it into points. And then we moved the ball. You know, I think that we need to keep doing those two things.
“I said before the game: the way that they guard, the pressure they put on you, the way they rap, the pass was the most important thing tonight. And if we caught ourselves iso-ing and all that stuff, we were going to have a long night. I thought we moved it well. Just got to keep building off of it.”
There certainly still is plenty of work to be done if the Celtics want to perform well in the upcoming postseason. And maintaining an aggressive mindset as a group will be key moving forward.
“Just the mindset,” Smart said. “We’ve got to come in every game with the mindset (of aggression) and we’ve just got to really fully understand that we’re a good team, but we’re not a great team. We’re not where we want to be. And we can’t just turn that switch on and then give it time. We tried it, and it obviously didn’t work for us.”
Here are some more notes from Monday’s Celtics-Bulls game:
— As Smart mentioned, the Celtics are good right now, but not great.
So, how do they fix that? Smart provided his keys to success after the game.
“One is the way we start games. These last two games was the way we’ve been needing to start. And two, finishing games all the way through. We came out in the third quarter in this game and they cut it to (a nine-point game) really quick. And great teams, once they get their foot (on the pedal) they keep it there. And once we learn how to do that consistently, we’ll be a great team.”
— Grant Williams had a bit of an injury scare late in the first half.
Williams briefly exited the game in the second quarter after appearing to injure his left shoulder with 3:39 left in the half, continuously grabbing at it until heading to the locker room flanked by trainers.
(You can check out the play here, via NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg.)
Luckily for the Celtics, Williams returned to the game in the third and finished the night with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Though he had his shoulder wrapped up after the game, Williams didn’t seem concerned about it one bit.
“Hey, I’m here for my team and as you know, I’m here for these three guys (Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Tatum) and I’m also here for the rest of these guys,” he said. “So whatever they need, I’m here for them no matter how I’m feeling. Finger’s fine. Shoulder’s fine. I’ll be playing.”
— Tatum extended his career-high streak of double-figure scoring to 29 games, per Celtics Stats.
— The Celtics welcome the Detroit Pistons to TD Garden come Wednesday with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images